This blog is about to get personal. If you can’t handle it, go type the word “kitties” into your Google search bar and go with that…
If you are still with me, please love me through my imperfections.
It’s kind of a big deal around this place. Why? Well, sit back and hold on to your seat.
In 2006, my “Nana” began the fight of her life. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, that same terrible disease that she’d watched terrorize her mother and aunties. Luckily, my Nana is a tough broad. She wasn’t going quietly into the night and, for that, I will be forever grateful. You see, my Nana has 7 daughters. Yep, I said 7. With all that estrogen in the family, Nana’s doctor suggested that my grandmother be tested for a possible genetic link. So, she went to Huntsman Cancer Institute and enrolled in a ground-breaking study. There she was tested and the results came back positive for a BRCA2 genetic mutation. Wow. Then, things got even more interesting. All 9 of her children were tested. The results? 4 of the 9 children were positive for the gene…
including my mother.
In November of 2006, my life changed forever. I went to bed one night feeling free as a bird, and the next day woke up with an 86% risk of having Breast Cancer, a 30-something % chance for Ovarian Cancer, and an incomprehensible weight on my chest. I couldn’t breathe. Where do you go from there? Yeah, good question. 5 years later and I am still working that one out. I’d like to say that I grabbed that mantle, raised my torch, and was thrilled for the privilege of carrying the banner! But, I’d be lying through my teeth.
As much as you can say that if it happened to you, you’d feel and act differently,
YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
Many people told me how grateful I should be for the knowledge that I had acquired. That this was a wonderful blessing! But, let’s be frank, life would be a heck of a lot easier without that information. The saying “We’ll cross that bridge when/if we get there” comes to mind. But, with knowledge in hand, you either fall apart or trudge on. Honestly, I have done both over the years. Some days, knowledge truly is power! I’ve cut out carbonation, caffeine, increased my intake of fruits and vegetables, found some wonderful supplements, gotten my blood sugar more stabilized, made great mental strides, studied, learned, and found my sense of humor. Other days, I watch a young mother’s valiant husband and beautiful children as they “Race for the Cure” in her sweet memory and completely come unhinged.
How do you prepare for a battle that you can’t see coming?
Some times the battle of “if” or “when” consumes my fragile breast.
Don’t get me wrong, I am an optimist by nature. A “Sunshine Girl” is who the Lord wanted me to be. It’s the very fiber of my being. So, in those dark moments, I look for the sun, er, Son. Which usually brings me to my knees. His answer? There is a bigger plan for me than what my small mortal mind can comprehend. Maybe the Lord let me have this challenge because He needed to soften me and mold me in a way that only this could. I have changed so much since that day when I was 25. I have become stronger, have a deeper testimony of my Savior and the Atonement, have broken down fences of fear, am learning about putting myself and my family first (which for someone who desperately wants to please, has probably been one of the most difficult lessons of all!) and have, as crazy as it is, become even more independent… can we have a moment of silence for my husband, please? I am becoming a truer version of who I am.
My blessings are a little clearer than they once were.
And, I am a lucky girl.
I have the knowledge that could not only save my life, but that of my daughters and granddaughters.
I will not go easily into the dark, stormy night.
Tomorrow morning, I go in for another mammogram. This is the 3rd time there has been a lump. It will probably just be more dense fibrous tissue, just like before. But, if by chance it is not, I can be prepared for battle. I choose to take up my sword and shield with my fellow sisters and fight. And, I have a great army on my side.
This month, as you see that pink ribbon, take a moment to do a self-breast exam. If you are over 40 or have a family history of breast cancer, schedule your yearly mammogram. Do something good for your health because YOU choose to.
After all, if found early, this enemy is 99% beatable.
This October, find your courage to face your battle, whatever it might be.
Wear pink with pride, and extend a loving hand to those women around you who are facing the fight of their lives.
War is hard.
Let’s fight it together.